Eggnog

Confession: I wasn’t sure I’d like this. I remember making eggnog all the time when I was a kid (sans rum, obviously), but at some point my mama started getting creeped out by raw egg consumption and nixed it. That was so long ago I wasn’t sure I’d even still enjoy it.

These days I live on the edge. I drink raw eggnog. I eat raw cookie dough. I do not, however, run with scissors; I’m pretty sure my mama would rise up and strike me down, and no one wants to see that happen.

Since eggnog and I were just getting to know each other again I made a small batch using Alton Brown’s recipe:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1/2 tablespoon
  • 1/2 pint whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites

For the living-on-the-edge uncooked version:

  1. Beat yolks until their color lightens (I did this in a large glass bowl with a whisk). Slowly add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until all sugar is dissolved. Add milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg, stirring to combine
  2. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks. While mixer is still running slowly add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating until egg whites are at stiff peaks
  3. Pour yolk/milk mixture into stand mixer and mix just till combined
  4. Chill and serve!

For the taking-no-chances cooked version:

  1. Beat yolks until their color lightens (again, large glass bowl with a whisk works great). Slowly add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating until all sugar is dissolved. Set this aside
  2. Set a medium saucepan over high heat and add in milk, cream and nutmeg. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Slowly and gradually temper the hot milk/cream mixture into the eggs and sugar, stirring all the while.
  3. Once combined, pour everything back into the saucepan and cook until inserted thermometer reads 160F degrees. Remove from heat, pour into medium mixing bowl and stir in bourbon. Set in the refrigerator to chill
  4. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks. While mixer is still running slowly add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and continue beating until egg whites are at stiff peaks, then whisk egg whites into chilled mixture and serve

Verdict: fantastic stuff! Even The Yankee liked it, and he was nearly positive he wouldn’t. This is also crazy good with amaretto instead of rum. Give it a try!

Queso fiesta dip

It’s another LuLu Buffett recipe! This was every so slightly modified from LuLu’s Crazy Cheesy Queso Dip. I love it especially right now because the red and green peppers look all Christmasey. Aww!

Here’s what I used:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 pound Velveeta or other melty cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (white pepper if you have it)
  • Salt to taste

To make the cheesy goodness:

  1. Slice cheese into 1″ chunks and put it and milk in top of double boiler, or in a large glass or metal bowl put over a pan of boiling water to start melting
  2. Finely dice onion and peppers in the food processor
  3. Melt butter in heavy saucepan and add diced veggies; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until veggies are soft
  4. When cheese/milk mixture is melted, stir in cooked veggies and add cumin, pepper and salt
  5. Serve immediately with chips, or keep warm in a crockpot for your fiesta

Russian tea

Russian tea recipe

Can I just say, for the record, I have no idea why this is called Russian Tea? I don’t. But I DO know why I’ve kept this recipe, written on orange construction paper, for so long: it is SO GOOD. I used to be a preschool teacher, and the teacher in the next room over gave me this recipe forever ago. Every year I make it it’s just as good as I remembered! There are a lot of versions floating around out there, but this one has never failed me. You will need:

Russian tea mix

  • 2 cups Tang mix
  • 1/3 cup lemonade mix
  • 3/4 cup instant tea (recipe says decaf; I use fully leaded because I have a 3 year old)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves

Then just mix it all in a bowl and store in a jar — so easy that this is a great project for the kids to help with. To serve, pour one cup of hot water over 1 Tbsp. of tea mix (grownups only with the boiling water, obviously).

This mix looks very pretty in little jars for presents, along with some sugar spice craisin nuts.

I must confess, though, my favorite thing to do with this tea is to enjoy a steaming cup of it in the afternoon with a little plate of cookies. It’s downright civilized, I tell you. My two favorite accompaniments for Russian tea this year are these buttered rum meltaways from Erin’s Food Files, and these shortbread cookies from The Novice Chef, my two bloggie sisters in crime. Try them… you won’t be sorry!

Russian tea

Tamales

It’s another recipe from The Cousin! You remember her, right? The Cousin of Salsa Roja fame? Yeah, that girl. So you know it’ll be good. Let’s get to it!

Before you do anything, get a bunch of corn husks soaking in water.

You will need for the tamale sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons oregano
  • 4 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 oz. package dried Ancho chiles
  • 3 oz. package dried California chiles
  1. Bloom the oregano and cumin in olive oil: warm a bit of olive oil in a small skillet, and toss in the spices; stir till you just start to smell them, then remove from heat
  2. Put onions, garlic and chiles in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then let it rest
  3. When cooled off, run through a food processor, then warm back up
  4. When hot again, add 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt to taste

For the tamale masa:

  • 1 cup grease, Crisco, or pork fat (I had bacon grease in the fridge, of course)
  • 3 cups dried corn masa (such as Maseca)
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup tamale sauce (above)
  1. Beat grease in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  3. Add tamale sauce to dry ingredients
  4. Add a bit of water if it looks too dry — you want it to feel kind of like Playdoh
  5. Slowly add mixture to grease in stand mixer and mix until smooth; add more water or dry masa as necessary

To make your tamales:

  1. Remove husks from water and pat dry (don’t have to completely dry, just make them a little easier to handle)
  2. Spread masa on smooth side of husks
  3. Put filling in the middle of the masa; roll the husk tightly, then fold up the end (see video here — not mine — for a very quick demonstration)
  4. Stand them upright, open side up, in a tamale or vegetable steamer for 90 minutes. Fantastic hint from The Cousin: put pennies in the bottom of your pot under the steamer; if they start clanging around you’ll know you need to add more water

After they’re finished cooking, discard husks and serve with your tamale sauce. SO YUMMY, and great comfort food for the cold weather upon us. Enjoy!